Although this dress looks simple, there is more complexity to this pattern than what initially meets the eye.
The skirt, which looks like a poofy bell skirt, doesn’t have a crinoline! Instead, the dress gets its shape from underlining the skirt with silk taffeta, and the volume continues from the release pleats along the waistline.
Release pleats aren‘t ironed or tacked down, which I found a bit more difficult to keep in place, once the basting was removed. There is a more unpredictable “spring,” or bounce, to the pleats.
Silk organza is usually the underlining fabric of choice, however, due to the “crisper” effect of the release pleats, we needed to use a crisper fabric than a bouncy organza.
As mentioned in the last blog post on the Mystique of the Corselette, the bodice is backed by a bias cut, boned underbodice, which has eight bones. I’ve never cut an underbodice on the bias before. After seeing the success of this corselette, I may employ this technique again in the future.
An extension placket was constructed on the corselete to help protect the skin from the ten hooks running down the back.
The tiny hooks were meticulously sewn on evenly. I used this handy, accordion-like tool, created for button placement, to help space the hooks and eyes.
The pattern presented another surprise: a strip of bias was sewn onto the underarm, but only onto the corselette! It is left floating free, unattached to the bodice fashion fabric. I’m honestly unsure about its purpose. Is this an underam shield or does it serve as a reinforcement for the bias cut underbodice? Maybe both? I’m not certain.
The pattern also presented a darted inner sleeve-stay. If you look closely, the front and back bodice do not meet together; they are joined partially onto the sleeve, and, then, the sleeve is eased into the stay.
Who would have thought that the sleeves would be both the hero and the nemesis of the dress? Since the sleeves sit off the shoulder, I finally understood why this dress had to be boned. The dress needs assistance from the help of inner bones to be held up, because it does not have any help from the natural pressure point at the shoulder. This dress is essentially behaving like a sleeveless bodice!
The entire dress had to be assembled first, before the corselette was inserted. The corselette terminates at the waist-line, since no crinoline or underskirt was necessary.
A petersham ribbon waist-stay was secured at the bottom of the corselette.
A lapped zipper was inserted by hand using the prickstitch.
A permanent “hole” was created along the waist-line which serves as the belt loop.
Which reminds me, there’s also a self covered belt...
which threads through the loop at the waistline
I made a personal choice to finish the dress with bound seams instead of using hand overcast stitches, since there’s no underskirt. Thinking ahead, I didn’t want a high-heel to catch and snag onto a thread.
The hem was whipstiched into place by hand.
And then we have a finished dress!
I’m pleasantly surprised that this project was not a boring dress to make; yet, it wasn’t difficult either. An intermediate or an advance sewist would have a lot of fun recreating this dress.
I would definitely put this dress into the “deceptively simple“ category. It looks plain and simple, but there’s so much more going on under the surface.
This 1957 Nina Ricci recreation will be perfect to wear to a piano recital or an elegant brunch. I look forward to wearing it soon.